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Research to examine survival of hares released into wild after coursing


Hares can be tracked with GPS collars. Photo: John Murphy

Hares can be tracked with GPS collars. Photo: John Murphy

Hares can be tracked with GPS collars. Photo: John Murphy

Research into the survival and behaviour of hares that are released back into the wild after being used for coursing is being commissioned by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)

The move follows the introduction of an opposition bill to ban hare coursing, and the research is likely to inform the Government's position in relation to the proposed ­legislation.

The Animal Health and Welfare (Ban on Hare Coursing) Bill was unopposed by the Government at the first stage when it was introduced by Rise TD Paul Murphy last month.

The NPWS is now set to spend €135,000 on a study that will monitor the survival and movement of hares that have been returned to the wild after being coursed, according to the tender documents.

Hares are typically captured in advance of coursing meetings and kept in dedicated "hare parks" for a period of several weeks before an event. After coursing, they are released again into the wild.

The study will compare the behaviour and survival of coursed hares after they have been released to hares that were not used for coursing.

It will also evaluate the importance of releasing hares in the territory where they were captured, as opposed to a random location.

The research will be carried out with the co-operation of the Irish Coursing Club, ­tender documents state.

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, which is responsible for the NPWS, declined to say whether the commissioning of the research was directly related to the introduction of the new anti-coursing bill.

"Recent technological advances in wildlife telemetry now make it possible to track movements of target species in real time using sophisticated GPS collars," said a spokesman.

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"It is now feasible to commission a project which will investigate the survival and movement of hares after coursing, and fill in these gaps in knowledge of the conservation status of the hare in ­Ireland."

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